Fluoride Action Network

Dishonorable discharge: Runoff from a former industrial site is contaminating an important NC lake.

NC Policy Watch | November 22,2022 | By Lisa Sorg
Posted on November 22nd, 2022

Alcoa’s continued discharge of toxics into Badin Lake, a popular fishing and swimming destination, linked to paltry fines, lax state oversight 

Alcoa, the eighth-largest aluminum company in the world, whose global reach spans 11 countries, claims on its website that it “operates with excellence” and “cares about people around the globe.”

The residents of West Badin, in Stanly County, and many of their neighbors across Badin Lake disagree.

Alcoa, which operated an aluminum smelter there for nearly a century, has incurred nearly two dozen violations for discharging contaminants into Little Mountain Creek and Badin Lake since 2019. This includes high amounts of cyanide – as much as 540% more than legally allowed –and fluoride, at times at third higher than permitted.

Meanwhile, the state Division of Water Resources has fined Alcoa, a $13 billion company, just $12,597 for the repeated violations over the last three years.

A DWR spokeswoman said the division is reviewing the fines assessed for these violations.

Lax monitoring requirements and anemic penalties by DWR, and spurious proposed solutions by Alcoa, have prompted several citizens’ groups to demand stronger regulations, including a full cleanup of the site and a more accurate environmental justice analysis, as part of the company’s renewed discharge permit.

Known as an NPDES, the federal permit is administered by the state. It governs Alcoa’s stormwater discharge from its contaminated former aluminum smelting operation now known as Badin Business Park in Stanly County, into nearby waterways. Badin Lake is a popular fishing and swimming destination. Little Mountain Creek forms the headwaters of Lake Tillery, the primary drinking water supply for Montgomery County, and in 2025, Union County. Most of the site lies within the West Badin community, which is more than 80% Black.

DWR could issue a draft permit for public comment before the end of the year. The division could also hold a public hearing, given community interest in the issue.

*Original full-text article online at: https://ncpolicywatch.com/2022/11/22/dishonorable-discharge-runoff-from-a-former-industrial-site-is-contaminating-an-important-nc-lake/